Forest managers say too much fuel has built up in the forests of the eastern Cascades after decades of fire suppression policies allowed large amounts of brush and downed wood to accumulate, raising the risk of large, destructive wildfires.
A bill introduced in the House implies that if the most devastating, expensive fires can be called "natural disasters," then agency discretionary spending limits for suppression costs can be exempted.
Really? The forests used to be regulated by responsible forest management. Now forest fires are becoming larger and more devastating, resulting in more casualties to humans and wildlife.
Meanwhile, logging communities have been shut down, leaving dying timber to rot and creating massive bug infestations and fire hazards while Americans are forced to import lumber and wood products from Canada.
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The federal government recently claimed 9.2 million acres to the federal plantation, allegedly to protect Northern spotted owl habitats in California, Oregon and Washington. Yet the banning of insecticides and fungicides has allowed disease and bark beetles to kill once-healthy trees, making them more susceptible to forest fires.
I would say that the disasters are very unnatural, and the policies implemented by overzealous and apparently unchecked environmental organizations are the real disasters.
CAL LEACH, Kennewick